South Holston

In 1991, TVA built a weir below South Holston Dam to add oxygen to the river when the hydropower plant isn’t generating electricity. Oxygen-rich water helps create a sustained habitat for aquatic insects, vegetation and fish—especially bass and trout.

South Holston Reservoir is on the South Fork Holston River in northeast Tennessee. It extends 24 miles east of the dam into Virginia. Construction of the dam began in 1942 but was halted in favor of other wartime construction efforts. Building resumed in 1947 and was completed in 1950.

South Holston is operated for several purposes, including flood damage reduction, power production, aquatic ecology and augmentation of the flow of water during drier periods.

The South Fork Holston River is home to an annual spring migration of white bass. Locals say that when the serviceberry and dogwood bloom, the white bass run. It is also home to a world-class trout fishery in the river below the dam.

A footbridge from the parking lot below the dam leads to Osceola Island and its one-mile-loop wildlife trail. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to sight waterfowl, deer and other wildlife.

There is a visitor center installation on site to tell you more about the history of TVA and South Holston, and about TVA's current activities. 

 South Holston: Facts + Figures

  • Construction of South Holston Dam began in 1942 and was completed in 1950.
  • The earth-and-rockfill dam is 285 feet high and reaches 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River.
  • South Holston Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has one generating unit with a net dependable capacity of 44 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.
  • In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in South Holston Reservoir varies about 25 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage.
  • The reservoir has a flood-storage capacity of 252,800 acre-feet.
  • Find South Holston Dam at 918 South View Dam Dr., Bristol, Tenn.

More Information on South Holston Reservoir

Daily Lake Level

Sport Fish Survey Results

Ecological Health Ratings

Recreation Facilities

The Unified Development of the Tennessee River plan stressed TVA was to provide flood control, navigation and electricity for the region. TVAs dams are tangible evidence of its primary mission: improving life in the Tennessee Valley. We’re celebrating the plan with an in-depth look at 32 of the dams it comprises.


"Weir" Science

The aerating labyrinth weir below South Holston Dam in upper East Tennessee has multiple benefits—chief among them creating the oxygen-rich water that has fostered a world-class brown trout fishery. Read more about South Holston's unique weir.

The Tug Is the Drug

Winter, spring, summer or fall, any angler will tell you that there is nothing like the adrenaline rush of “fish on.” The Tennessee Valley is home to many world-class trout fisheries, chief among them the South Holston River. Read more about trout fishing the Valley.